Opinion » Editorial


We all pulled the trigger that killed Jeanie



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There is no doubt in my mind that pulling the trigger that killed the tranquillized mother-bear was heartbreaking for the conservation officers who had spent so many days, indeed years, trying to manage her behaviour.

But was a 30-cent cartridge the only answer?

Efforts were made to locate her to a captive shelter to live out her days. But she was a wild animal and the only dignified way for Jeanie to die was to meet her end in the wilderness.

Should we have considered re-locating her at a greater distance even if there was a high likelihood she may have died trying to return to her home territory on Whistler Mountain?

For many years now the resort has struggled with its relationship with bears. But there is constant learning - after all we don't go to the dump anymore to take pictures of them or feed them buns - at the same time, though, we all know a story about garbage being left outside a home, or a business or housing complex that hasn't secured its waste.

There are bylaws and provincial laws in place to tackle these types of offenses, but it's just not that common for the violations to be acted upon and the consequences are not much of a deterrent.

And we have all seen overflowing garbage cans in the village on busy weekends.

There has to be zero tolerance for inappropriate waste storage and/or disposal - it's the only way. We need to be proactive and we need to look at how our transient workers, who rely on buses for transportation, can get their garbage to the compactors as well.

In Jeanie's case her behaviour pattern, until now, had always been that if she didn't get food from a source after a couple of tries she'd moved on - hopefully back into bear habitat country.

This year, more than most, village food outlets should be particularly vigilant. It's the worst berry crop in 18 years and the bears are suffering for it. Though a necropsy showed that Jeanie was in good shape there is no doubt that she would not have come to the village searching for food if she could have found it as easily for herself and her cub on the mountain. If she hadn't found human food, perhaps she would have foraged farther afield and I would probably be writing another election editorial instead.

In some First Nations legends bears are the keeper of dreams. That is how I think of Jeanie - she kept the dream alive that people and wild creatures can share the same space together.